Eric Newby was born in London in 1919 and educated at St Paul’s School. In 1938 he joined the four-masted Finnish barque Moshulu as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Australia to Europe by way of Cape Horn. During World War II he served in the Special Boat Service, and was awarded the Military Cross in 1945. He was a prisoner of war in Italy from 1942-5, and it was during this time that he met Wanda, his beloved wife and travelling companion of many years.
Following the war he spent ten years as a commercial traveller in the rag trade and in a London couture house and then resumed his independent travelling career when he decided to take a short walk in the Hindu Kush. For many years he was travel editor of the Observer.
He was the author of a number of bestselling travel books, including Slowly Down the Ganges, A Small Place in Italy, Departures and Arrivals, and two books of photographs: What the Traveller Saw and Around the World in Eighty Years. He was made CBE in 1994. Eric Newby died in October 2006.